Deed Book 179, page 403, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
On 31 January 1929, John and Cora Melton sold a parcel of land in Black Creek township for $100 to James M. Barnes, W.M. Forsythe, and J.A. Artis, trustees of Love Union Lodge #209, Knights of King Solomon. The parcel adjoined lands of John Melton and John Mercer on “the Ruffin Lane Road” near the Colored School Building and measured about one-half acre.
[Where was Ruffin Lane Road? Where was the Black Creek Colored School?]
Deed book 121, page 381, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.
On 20 February 1920, Gary Armstrong and wife Henrietta borrowed $3282.60 from the Endowment Department of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. In exchange, the Armstrongs gave a mortgage on four parcels measuring 34, 112, 55, and 42 acres. If the Armstrongs defaulted on the loan, the Endowment Department would sell the land to satisfy the debt. This mortgage deed was cancelled 3 January 1924, after the debt was paid in full. Deed book 141, page 59.
On 29 October 1923, James Rountree, William Thorne, James Bass, Warren Rountree, Phebe Rountree, and Emma Daniel, trustees of Saint Pauls Disciples Church (Colored), sold to Barnes Chapel Lodge #78, Knights of King Solomon, a one-eighth acre parcel on the north side of the old County Line Road and east side of the public road from Wilson to Nashville, N.C., to be used for lodge purposes only and never for “a place of public amusement or in any manner that will be in derogation of the peace and dignity of the church” next door. [Saint Paul’s is an active church on Lake Wilson Road, just east of N.C. Highway 58, the “public road” referred to. I am not clear if the church not to be disturbed is Saint Paul or some other church.] Deed book 146, page 271.
On 1 December 1923, J.L. Newsom, Nathan Bass, and James H. Newsom sold W.K. Knight, Willie Newton, Elias Barnes, C.L. Battle, Charlie Newton, L.W. Williams, and Walter Thompson, trustees of First Baptist Church (Colored) of Lucama, for $125 a one-quarter acre parcel adjacent to the Wilson County Public School (Colored)’s lot on the extension of Main Street near the town of Lucama. Deed book 146, page 397.
As this Google Maps image shows, First Baptist Church still stands just outside Lucama. Its parcel is considerably larger than a quarter-acre and may include the land on which Lucama Colored School formerly sat.
Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-American churches and lodges in Wilson County:
On 16 November 1916, J.L. Yelverton and Mary B. Yelverton sold J.H. Winston, Nathan Locus, and Peter Barnes, trustees of Travelers Rest Church of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association, for $50, a lot in Stantonsburg bordering the Yelvertons, the colored school, and B.M. Whitley. The purchase was recorded 6 October 1917 in Deed Book 111, page 347, Register of Deeds office, Wilson.
On 18 October 1917, Ace Lucas and wife Anne Lucas sold L. Blackwell, Wesley Strickland, Herbert Taylor, and Ace Lucas, trustees of Sandy Fork Missionary Baptist Church, a 90′ by 90′ lot in Taylors township adjacent to the lands of U.H. Cozart and Ace Lucas. The lot was to be used for Missionary Baptist church building and would revert to the Lucases otherwise. The purchase was recorded 17 November 1917 in Deed Book 111, page 423, Register of Deeds office, Wilson. [Sandy Fork’s current church is just across the county line in Nash County.]
On 24 February 1919, Jesse R. Barnes and wife Sarah L. Barnes, having borrowed $300 from George W. Harris, W.M. Pearce, and E.H. Haskins, trustees of the Christian Aid Society of Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, signed over to the Society 3.44 acres on “Colored Masonic Cemetery Road” [Lane Street] adjacent to the lands of Dollison Powell, Margaret Artis, Raleigh Real Estate and Trust Company and S.H. Vick. The Barneses had purchased this property from S.H. and Annie Vick on 26 April 1913, per Deed Book 91, page 580, and the $300 went to pay them off. The loan to the Society was due 24 February 1920. If the Barneses were to default, the Society’s trustees were to sell the land at auction, recoup the debt, and pay any remainder to the Barneses. On the other hand, if the note were satisfied, the deed was void. The deed, filed at Deed Book 117, page 285, was marked paid on 8 February 1923. [This parcel was much smaller than the Barnes land that ultimately became Rest Haven cemetery.]
On 9 March 1926, Glenn S.McBrayer and wife Lillian L. McBrayer sold W.H. Brown, W.H. Kittrell, A.C. Winstead, Jno. A. Parker, and Jesse Holden, trustees of Marshall Lodge No. 297, Approved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, a lot at the corner of Vick and Nash Streets, being part of Lot No. 1 of Block B of the Rountree property recorded in Deed Book 78, pages 62-63, Register of Deeds office, Wilson. The purchase was recorded 29 May 1926 in Deed Book 161, page 608, Register of Deeds office, Wilson.
I wrote here of my discovery of Sharpsburg’s traditional African-American section, which lies mostly in Wilson County. Below, a better photo of old Bellamy Chapel Primitive Baptist Church (first known as Sharpsburg Colored Primitive Baptist Church).
The church’s trustees purchased the property in 1915. The church building was already on the lot and, unusually, the deed contained a stipulation that the property would always be used for “church purposes.” If not, it would revert to J.H. Bellamy (whom I have not been able to identify.) At deed book 102, page 578, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office:
North Carolina, Wilson County } THIS DEED, made this September 24th, 1915, by and between M.V. Barnhill, Trustee, party of the first part, and Henry Reid, Robert Lewis and George Drake, as Trustees of the Sharpsburg Colored Primitive Baptist Church, parties of the second part; WITNESSETH
THAT for and in consideration of the sum of Ten Dollars ($10.00) to him in hand paid, the receipt whereof expressly acknowledged, the said party of the first part, has bargained, sold, aliened and conveyed, and by these presents does bargain, sell and convey unto them, the said Henry Reid, Robert Lewis and George Drake, as Trustees as aforesaid, their successors in office and assigns, all that certain lot or parcel of land lying and being situate in Toisnot Township, Wilson County, North Carolina, being the unnumbered lot as is shown by plat of the Bellamy property, recorded in Book 78, page 170, Wilson County registry, to which plat and survey reference is hereby made for a more specific description of said lot; it being the lands upon which the Church aforesaid is now situate, said lot fronting thirty (30) feet on the East side of Railroad Street and running back seventy-five (75) feet.
TO HAVE AND HOLD the aforesaid land and premises, together with all and singular, the rights, easements and appurtenances thereunto in any wise belonging unto them, the said parties of the second part, as Trustees as aforesaid, their successors in office and assigns so long as said premises may be used for church purposes, and no longer. Should the said premises cease to be used for church purposes, then and in that event said land shall revert to and become the property of J.H. Bellamy, and this Deed shall be held and deemed to be null and void.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, the said party of the first part has hereunto set his hand and seal, this the day and year first above written. M.V. Barnhill, Trustee
Deed book 78, page 170, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.
[Update, 4/26/2021 — As reader DC pointed out, I actually do know who J.H. Bellamy was. I needed merely to search my own blog. From C.L. Spellman‘s treatise on Elm City’s Black community: “J.H. Bellamy and his wife Cherry were among the first Negroes to move into the Sharpsburg vicinity. Bellamy was a preacher and a teacher. He did some good work in the general section in both these capacities. Together these two acquired a small tract of farm land. This was held up in his preaching and teaching as an example of what Negroes generally should do in order to succeed in life.”]
In November 1877, steward Lawrence Ward, acting on behalf of Bethel A.M.E. [Zion] Church, purchased the acre of land on which its church stood on the road leading from Stantonsburg to Contentnea Creek near Ruffin’s Bridge. The church is now located about a mile north of Stantonsburg, but its cemetery remains on the original acre. Ruffin’s Bridge was originally known as Peacock’s Bridge, and Peacock’s Bridge Road runs east of present-day NC Highway 58.
Deed Book 14, page 366.
State of North Carolina, Wilson County } This deed made this the 16th day of November 1877 by F.M. Moye of Wilson County and State of North Carolina to Lawrence Ward of said County & State holding the office of Steward in the A.M.E. church known as Bethel Witnesseth that the said F.M. Moye in consideration of Twenty Five Dollars to him paid by the said Lawrence Ward as the representative of said church the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged have bargained & sold by these presents do bargain & sell & convey to the said Lawrence Ward and his successors in office for the benefit & use of said Church a certain lot of land in said county, it being the land on which the building of the said church is situated on the North side of Big Contentnea creek near Ruffins bridge and on the east side of the road leading to said Bridge and is a part of the tract of land Known as the Davis land containing one acre To have and to hold the aforesaid lot of and all privileges thereto belonging to the said Lawrence Ward and his successors in office for the benefit & use of said church And the said F.M. Moye covenant that he is seized of said lot of land in fee and has the right to convey the same in fee simple and that he will warrant & defend the said title to the same against the claims of all persons whatsoever In testimony whereof the said F.M. Moye have hereunto set his hand & seal the say & year above written /s/ F.M. Moye Attest J.K. Peacock, J.S. Ellis
In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Lawrence Ward, 25, farmer, owned $1000 in real property; wife Mary, 20; and daughter Mary A., 3; Chloie, 14, Lydia, 11, Jennie, 10, and Patrick Pope, 7; and Sophia Ward, 48.
In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Lawrence Ward, 38; wife Mary, 29; daughter Mary, 14; mother Sophia, 58; and farm worker Henry Lane, 12. [Their proximity in 1870 and 1880 to the house and plantation of Dr. David G.W. Ward suggests that Lawrence and Sophia Ward had been owned by the doctor in slavery.]
In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: Laurence Ward, 55, farmer; wife Mary, 43; mother Sophia, 84; and granddaughter Amie Yelverton, 13.
In the 1910 census of Pikeville township, Wayne County: Lawrence Ward, 66, farmer; mother Sophia, 98; wife Mary, 60; and granddaughter Amy Yelverton, 21.
Lawrence Ward died 29 August 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1831 in Wilson County to Sophia Ward; was married; was a retired farmer; and was buried in Wayne County.
Deed book 14, page 366, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial photo courtesy of Google Maps.
Ed and Daisy Hagans purchased a plot at Rest Haven cemetery for twenty-five dollars on 26 July 1948. Such a sale constitutes a real estate transaction, and the Haganses’ transaction was recorded in Deed Book 357, page 413, at the Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.
Edward Hagans died 20 July 1948, eight days after the purchase of this lot. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 April 1913 in Wilson County to Isaac Hagans and Essie Mae Farmer; was married to Daisy Hagans; lived at 555 East Nash Street; worked as a laborer; and was buried in Rest Haven on 22 July 1948.
Edward and Daisy Hagans’ daughter Gloria Devetta Hagans died at home on 28 July 1948 of pulmonary tuberculosis (as had her father.) Per her death certificate, she was born 25 November 1934 in Wilson to Edward Hagans and Daisy Melton; was a student; lived at 536 East Nash; and was buried at Rest Haven.
Per Joan Howell’s Cemetery, Volume 5, Edward, Daisy and Gloria Hagans, plus Albert Hagans, are buried in Section 3 between rows L and M.
On 12 February 1946, Leslie and Minnie Diggs Artis of Eureka, Wayne County, and the Trustees of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church reached an agreement to resolve uncertainty over the location of back boundary for property that each party owned on Smith and Church Streets.
In January 1923, Halley B. and Marie Taylor of Paterson, New Jersey, sold the trustees of First Baptist Church a large lot “in the southeast corner of Chas. Thomas‘ lot on Green Street and runs with Green Street, Southeasterly 60 feet to the corner of Green and Vick Streets, thence with Vick Street, Northeasterly 60 feet, cornering thence at right angles to Viola Street, Southwesterly 210 feet to Green Street.” Trustees Noah J. Tate, Austin N. Neal, George Roberson, Ed Holden, Harry Brown and Glenn S. McBrayer paid the Taylors $6500 for the property. H.B. Taylor was pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church from 1908 to 1920.
The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson shows a large one-story house with wrap-around front porch at 721 East Green Street. In the 1988 nomination form for historic register designation for East Wilson, the house is described as “ca. 1913; 1 1/2 stories; H.B. Taylor House; intact Queen Anne cottage with double-pile, hip-roofed form and front-facing wing….” The house has since been demolished.
Deed book, page, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church looms over the intersection of East Nash and Pender Streets. It is one of the oldest African-American churches in Wilson County and for much of its existence was one of the largest congregations. Jackson Chapel A.M.E. Zion though?
This deed reveals that there was such a church in Wilson County just before World War I. In November 1917, Lizy and William McCoy, Rosa and Gray Speight, Robert and Annie Bynum, Arch and Lilly Bynum, and Tamer Bynum (the heirs and widow of George Bynum) sold a parcel of land for $200 to W.F. Leak, John Williams, Melinda Leak, James Anderson, G.W. Leak, Alexander Leak, Floyd Ellis and J.T. Jackson, trustees of Jackson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church. The parcel, measuring just over an acre, lay beside the Norfolk Southern Railroad track “near the Town of Evansdale.” (Evansdale has never been a town. It is crossroads community that, in its heyday, was centered around the intersection of what are now Evansdale and Graves Roads.) If the church were ever constructed, it no longer stands, and the congregation has disbanded. (George J. Leake, however, a grandson of William F. and Malinda Leak born in 1929, became an A.M.E. Zion minister, rising to the office of bishop before his death at age 51.)
The Bynum Family
On 31 October 1869, Puss Artice, daughter of Arch and Rosa Artice, married George Bynum, son of Thos. Drake and Eliza Bynum, at Arch Artice’s. [“Puss” was the nickname of Tamar Artis Bynum.]
In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Archabald Artis, 70; wife Rosa, 34; Tamer Bynum, 23, and [her husband] George, 25.
In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer George Bynum, 35; wife Tamer, 30; and children Arch, 7, Roser, 6, Lesey, 4, and Robert, 3 months.
Arch Bynum — Arch Bynum, 23, of Wilson township, son of Geo. and Tama Bynum, married Lilly Woodard, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Webster and Liza Woodard, on 27 February 1896. George Woodard applied for the license and the marriage took place at Webster Woodard’s in the presence of Rosa Bynum, Johnie Moore and Richmond Mercer. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Arch Bynum, 37, odd jobs; wife Lillie, 31; and children Nnes, 11, Junis, 7, George, 4, Rena, 2, and Ressie, 2 months.
Rosa Bynum — Gray Speight, 47, of Greene County, son of Noah and Synty Speight, married Rosa Brooks, 40, of Stantonsburg, daughter of George and Tamer Bynum, on 24 November 1925 in Stantonsburg. Rosa Speight died 24 August 1967. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 March 1874 in Wilson County to George Bynum and Tammer Artis; was a widow; had worked as a farmer. Informant was Louise Hinnant.
Lizy Bynum — On 30 June 1897, W.J. McKoy, 25, of Wilson, son of Alex and Ellen McKoy, married Leacy Bynum, 20, of Wilson, daughter of George and Tamer Bynum, at George Bynum’s residence. In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, farmer Will McCoy, 34; wife Leesie, 32; and children Joe, 11, Lossie, 9, Nancy, 8, Robert, 4, and Mary, 3.
Robert Bynum — Robert Bynum, 22, of Stantonsburg, son of George and Tamy Bynum, married Florence Barnes, 22, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Stephen and Adline Barnes, on 4 January 1905 at Steave Barnes’ in Stantonsburg. Robert Bynum, 31, of Wilson, son of George Bynum, married Annie Darden, 21, of Wilson, daughter of C.F. Darden and Mattie Darden on 11 December 1912 at C.F. Darden’s in Black Creek.
W.F. Leak — in the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer William F. Leak, 53; wife Malinda, 40; children L[illegible], 17, Albert, 15, Arron, 12, David, 9, and George, 3; son-in-law Lubia Oliver, 27; daughter Lucy, 21; and brother George W. Leak, 43, widower. In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, farmer William Leak, 57; wife Malinda, 54; widowed daughter Mannie Hicks, 34; and brother George Leak, 54.
G.W. Leak — George Washington Leak.
Alexander Leak — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, Alexander Leak, 44, wide Elizar Jane, 39; and children Junous, 21, Octivis, 20, James, 15, Wyley, 9, Mamie, 12, Rosa, 5, and Addie, 1.
Floyd Ellis — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, tenant farmer Floid Ellis, 44; wife Mollie, 42; and children Floid T., 12, King A., 10, Joe M., 5, John A., 3, and Mary Reb, 6 months.
This abandoned general store building stands beside the Norfolk-Southern railroad at Evansdale Road and Graves Road. Unused since at least the 1950s, it was likely the heart of the community in which the Bynums and Leaks lived. There is no trace of a church along the railroad.
Five years after this purchase, a terrible tornado tore through Evansdale, killing an African-American school teacher and leaving families, including William Leak’s, homeless. Was Jackson Chapel destroyed in this storm, never to be rebuilt?
Deed book 111, page 399, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2020.
As we saw here, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church is one of the few surviving early twentieth-century wooden gable-end African-American churches in Wilson County. In 1917, Macedonia trustees R.A. Worrell and Matthew Sauls acted on behalf of the church to purchase the one-half acre lot on which the church was later built.
Note the reference to the adjoining property — the “public school lot, known as Powell’s school house (col).” Powell School predated the Rosenwald school-era. It was not listed in a recent state survey of early African-American schools in Wilson County.
In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: on Goldsboro Road, Matthew Sauls, 43; wife Fannie, 36; and children Sylvester, 15, Nellie, 12, Maggie, 6, Dred, 4, Hattie, 2, and Bessie, 5 months.
In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on W.R. Raper Road, farmer R[ichard] A. Worlds, 40; wife Rachel, 43; and children Bessie, 16, Eddie, 13, Effie, 12, Richard, 10, Iona, 7, Elnora, 6, Viola, 3, and John, 2.
Deed book 111, page 195, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.